Interlude: freedom for whom?

There have been changes in my little household, subtle shifts that affect us all. I suspect that the rest of my family do not recognise the impact that these have on me. Where they see a chance for freedom and expect to be accommodated as they enjoy this interlude in their lives, I find that my quiet days are now constantly interrupted. I have lost my privacy and ability to structure my days.

It was a relief for all when exam season finally came to an end last week. Although my boys still have their music practicals in mid July, the importance of these is not so great that they need cause undue stress. I am enjoying listening to them practice, live music in the house is always welcome.

Daughter was away for five days, on a science field trip with school, returning last night to clean up and sleep before leaving early this morning for a university open day. She has two more of these planned, a chance for her to glimpse her future. She has a busy month ahead with work experience at a hospital followed by a holiday with her writer friends. She sways between wanting me to leave her in peace and needing me to sort so much out for her.

Elder son is now at home much of the time, sleeping through the mornings and then staying up into the wee small hours. I try not to interfere. At sixteen he needs to find his own space and I am grateful that he is home rather than out who knows where. He does not understand my life and often gives me a hard time over my choices. I can only hope that this is a phase he will grow out of, that empathy will return.

Younger son still has school, the only one of us who has not seen a shift in the everyday. I try to engage with him, but he wishes to spend his time on line with his friends. I am assured by other parents that his behaviour is normal. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of parenting teens is going with the flow, allowing these emerging young adults to be.

Yesterday husband finished his contract with work, he is looking for another but we cannot know how long that will take. Thus he too will now be home, wanting to make use of his time. He has tasks lined up that need doing around the house and garden, but I am wary of what he will expect from me. I feel a need to guard my space, to ensure that I do not allow my hard won if still fragile status as a writer to be swept away.

I have found myself in a place that I am enjoying immensely: reading books; writing reviews; creating stories. The interactions with authors and publishers on line is fascinating, a world I aspire to get to know better. The books I am given to read feed me with thought provoking new experiences, offer me challenges as I tease out the reviews from the swirling emotions evoked by the writing. I like it here, I like to immerse myself in these worlds.

Yet how can I resent when a loved one asks for a meal, a cup of tea, a chance to chat? When my company is sought I have no wish to decline. They will each move on in time as work is found, school resumes. I wish to appreciate the time they spend with me without losing the inroads I have made into carving out a space for myself where I feel fulfilled, accepted, even valued from time to time.

Of course my family will always come first, but I fear losing the sense of self that I have finally gained. I find it hard that some cannot see value in what I do because it is unpaid, I am still reliant on my husband to support me. I recognise that privilege and am grateful for it, hoping that I can be a better family member by being happier in this life that I am leading.

Finding balance is always a challenge, giving time and attention to those who matter whilst not giving away what I am, what I wish to become. I value this space with my books and my writing. I wonder can I find a way to share it.

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